By John Gatta
This article explores a remarkable if not likely undercurrent of curiosity in Mary as legendary Madonna, that has persevered in American lifestyles and letters from rather early within the nineteenth century into the later twentieth. This innovative involvement with the Divine girl - verging now and then on devotional homage - is mainly exciting as manifested within the Protestant writers who're the focal point of this learn: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harold Frederic, Henry Adams, and T.S. Eliot. the writer argues that flirtation with the Marian cultus provided Protestant writers symbolic repayment for what can be culturally clinically determined as a deficiency of psychic feminity, or "anima" in the US. He argues that the literary configurations of the legendary Madonna convey a subsurface cultural resistance to the existing rationalism and pragmatism of the yank brain in an age of entrepreneurial conquest.
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Additional info for American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary Culture
What Hawthorne ended up making of the Madonna theme in larger terms shows a comparable ambivalence of intent. Both countercultural and culturally conservative forces figured into his fictive portraits of divine maternity. On the more prophetic side, the Marian Magna Mater provided a vehicle for combining appreciative reminiscence of pagan myth with the iconography and emotion of Christian belief. As such, the Divine Woman satisfied a nineteenth-century Romantic ideal, expressing spiritual and intuitional longings suppressed by the mercantile rationalism of Hawthorne's age.
13 Although Minerva does not gain clear literary prominence in Fuller's writing until "The Great Lawsuit" and Woman in the Nineteenth Century, where she becomes psychic complement to the Muse aspect of womanhood, she also figures briefly in various letters, essays, and poems. " Writing to Emerson, she associates Minerva with her own search for creative inspiration. And emblems she finds expressive of Minerva, particularly "the Sphinx, the owl, the serpent," supply imagery for her 1844 poems and other writings.
And just as Hilda canvassed churches and galleries without locating precisely the Virgin Mother she sought, a face that combined in feminine form Christ's human tenderness and numinous splendor, so also Hawthorne failed to discover the integrating faith he sought in the American cult of domesticity. The signs of this failure are written all over The Marble Faun. The bifurcation evidenced here, whereby the image of Mary as pure virgin and as compassionate mother is split irreconcilably between Hilda and Miriam, reflects that larger division of sensibility that plagued Hawthorne's later career.